Saturday, August 25, 2012

beginning of school time capsules

Since we formally started homeschooling, I have taken beginning of school pictures to capture that special moment in time. After seeing this survey from Monica at The Homespun Heart last year, I thought it would be fun to add to our beginning of school routine.

I tweaked her survey to fit our family and had the kiddos complete them on the first day of school last year (Letter C, below). They then rolled them up and put them inside toilet paper tube "time capsules", along with pieces of yarn cut to the length of respective heights (A) as well as a print-out of their first day pictures (B).

Each child decorated a piece of paper to wrap the tube with. Once they were all sealed, I tucked them away on a high shelf in our living room--not to be opened until next school year.

Finally it was our much-awaited first day of school, 2012 edition! :) Before we opened our 2011 time capsules, the kiddos filled out their 2012 surveys and took new measurements and pictures. Then it was time to rip open the old capsules and take a bit of a trip back in time. It was interesting to see how much (or how little, in the case of one of my children) their opinions had changed from last year to this one. From a mom/teacher's perspective, it was also great to see progress in each child's writing and thinking abilities.

Once we were done comparing we prepared our new surveys, pictures, and height strings (using nylon string this year--yarn was way too stretchy and inaccurate) to be put away for next year. They were once again wrapped in decorative papers and put away until next year. I stapled the 2011 capsule contents together and filed them away so that we can revisit them on the first day of school in future years.

I'm including a link to my version of the Time Capsule Survey to give an idea of the sort of questions the children answered:  Printable PDF here  If my version isn't what you are looking for, you can easily recreate a similar document with questions that hold special meaning for your family. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

unpause is summer, glorious, deep-toned summer,
The very crown of nature’s changing year
When all her surging life is at its full.
To me alone it is a time of pause,
A void and silent space between two worlds,
When inspiration lags, and feeling sleeps,
Gathering strength for efforts yet to come.
~"Summer" by Amy Lowell

This summer has had its share of 'life at its full' for our family--traveling (Chicago, Boston, Maine, New Hampshire, Tennessee), playing (hockey, hockey, and more hockey!), working (home reno's still in progress), celebrating (3 birthdays and an anniversary in less than 2 months).

Inspiration and feeling were abandoned in favor of going and doing and experiencing. A new season is on its way, though, and I'm preparing for the challenge of the 'efforts yet to come'. The biggest effort is our new school year, which we will be starting on Monday. My older two are 4th and 5th grade, so we are transitioning to more rigorous school work. We are studying American History this year. If our experience in Boston over Independence Day is any indication, we are going to have a lot of fun learning about our country's beginnings. We are incorporating more writing, which I'm sure my kiddos will moan and groan about, but as a former middle school Language Arts teacher I will love it! My husband and I will also be teaching two levels of homeschool Spanish classes at our local community center.

Another welcome effort is joining Mom's Toolbox for another round of reading the Bible in 90 days. I've read through using this program before, as well as served as a mentor. It's a fabulous way to experience God's Word and appreciate how beautiful, complex, and truly perfect it is. I'm excited to 'meet' my B90days group led by Candace at His Mercy is New and am definitely looking forward to the motivation and support the entire B90Days community provides.

In line with my sometimes neglected but not forgotten focus words for this year, my husband and I are planning on joining a Bible study at church starting in September. It sounds minor but is a good step for us. We have been slowly but surely been trying to follow God as He has led us toward a new-to-us church at which we can put down roots.

As I unpause from the carefree summer mentality, I do worry if I can keep all of the proverbial plates spinning. Yet I rest easy in knowing that even if (or better yet, when) I lack what it takes, I serve a mighty and powerful God through whom I am strengthened.

Friday, May 11, 2012

the breakfast club

I've never been much of a morning person, nor a breakfast eater. Back in my school days, my teachers used to extol the virtues of eating a good breakfast, especially before standardized testing. I felt like such a rebel when I would slide into my desk, pencil sharpened but stomach empty. I did great on those tests, so I figured either I was a freak or the whole breakfast deal was a conspiracy dreamed up by the evil triumvirate of Aunt Jemima, Jimmy Dean, and Tony the Tiger.

Now that my status has changed to married with children, I still don't like breakfast but I live with a house full of people who do. I've found that if I try to plan breakfast on the fly, we end up eating cold cereal every day. In the name of variety, nutrition, and happy campers, I came up with a breakfast rotation like this:

Monday: Muffins or quick breads, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs
Tuesday: Hot cereal (ricemeal, oatmeal, cornmeal, farina)
Wednesday: Pancakes, waffles, or crepes
Thursday: Bacon or sausage, eggs, toast
Friday: Cold cereal
Saturday & Sunday: Eggs, bagels, donuts (bad mom! bad mom!) - sometimes pancakes if the begging gets too intense.

In addition to the main rotation, each day we usually have fruit and either juice or milk (chocolate on pancake days). Well, the normal family members do while I skulk over in the corner and nibble quietly on cold leftovers.

yes, I is a breakfast hater

My hatred of breakfast notwithstanding, this plan has worked fabulously for almost two years. I guess you could say it's grrrrrrreat!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

goalie 02/28/12
amazing jump by lightning goalie mathieu garon

Goals are great for focus. My boys both play hockey. My older guy is best at offensive positions, so he's trying to get the puck in the goal. My little guy is a goalie, so he's trying to keep the puck out. If there wasn't a goal, there wouldn't be anything for either offense or defense to strive toward = fruitless (my opinion) and booooorrrrrring! (sons' opinions).

It's the same in my game of life. Without concrete goals, I tend to drift off into the warm waters of procrastination and laziness. Which can be relaxing until the sharks attack family needs food and I run out of fresh water clean underwear. So, to totally beat this dead-horse of a metaphor, I'm going to stake my claim in the terra firma of setting goals in a few key areas: home, school, Bible, and blogging.

Meal planning
Follow daily schedule
Fold and put away laundry the day it is washed/dried

Follow schedule
Organize school supplies
Cull books / sell or give away what is not needed

Read daily
Continue copying Psalm 119
Read a different book related to prayer each month

Comment on at least three other blogs each week (starting small!)
Post at least twice weekly--but if life gets in the way, I'll let it! Offline life always comes first.
Link blog posts on Twitter

Exercise -- My husband has asked me a few times to do Insanity or P90X with him. Obviously, the Insanity program has gone to his head if he thinks I could or would do either of those! :) We now have Chalean Extreme, so guess what he wants me to try now? I'm considering it. Maybe the Insanity got to me as well? :)

Will I accomplish all of that? Maybe, maybe not, but at least I have some wide open nets ready for action.

Friday, May 4, 2012

purpose & cake

I was so excited (and intimidated) about the possibility of attending the 2:1 conference, especially since I felt God was drawing me in that direction. As it turned out, though, God had another purpose for me. Well, that or the airlines are conspiring against my desire to share my journey as a Christian home educator. Okay, probably not the latter. :) 

I ended up having to cancel at the last minute because I just could not get an available flight in or out of Dulles at the right times for the conference. I even looked into flying into BWI (Baltimore) or DCA (Reagan) but that was going to involve renting a car or trying to map out an overly complicated public transit route. I love using our airline benefits; that is, until flights are full and I'm potentially bumped off every flight. 

At first, when I realized that the flights weren't going to work out I was confused and sad. Why would I be given this opportunity, only to have it not work out in the end? I realize, though, that God knows what he is doing. Even when I don't understand, I will trust in his purpose. And even though I wasn't able to be in the midst of some of the best Christian homeschool bloggers around, I was living out God's plans for me. 

Since I stayed home: 
  • My husband and I had a great discussion about which church we felt we belong in (a much needed conversation since we've been searching for awhile). 
  • I gave all three children a lesson how to properly clean their bathrooms, including scrubbing the toilet which they all loved. Yes, loved
  • I washed, dryed, folded, and put away 7 loads of laundry in one day. Possibly a new record for me. Woot!
Okay, so God's purpose for me right now is pretty mundane. Chats, bathrooms, laundry...hardly revolutionary. But I think of it like baking a cake. You take some pretty ordinary ingredients--flour, sugar, eggs, butter (okay I must say, butter's extraordinary) -- and turn it into something so special it can be found at almost every celebration. I like to think that God will similarly take these seemingly ordinary, small tasks and use them for his glorious purpose. Even more glorious than cake! Do you think there's cake in heaven? :)

Friday, April 6, 2012


I love how, in times of indecision or discouragement, God will give me little nudges. When I last wrote, I was feeling unsure of where I stand as a writer and blogger. It would be so very easy to delete it all and move on. But I haven't. I feel the nudges, the small push to come back and share. God has laid it on my heart that this is the year that I need to work on relationships and reliance on Him. What better way to practice that than to continue down the path that feels winding and precarious, having no idea where I'll end up but remaining secure in God's guidance and goodness.

Recently, I entered to win a ticket to the 2:1 Conference. I'm a hesitant blogger with a shy heart, so attempting to find a way to a blogging conference seems a bit silly. But I felt the nudging, the gentle prompting toward the unknown path, and knew I had to go for it. 

I didn't win the contest I entered. A disappointment, perhaps, but God knows exactly what I need and it seemed it wasn't this conference.

Except it is this conference. In an unexpected turn of events, an anonymous sponsor offered additional ticket opportunities, and I am one of the recipients. I am going to 2:1. Of course that means that I am excited, but also that I am nervous about being an inexperienced (and self-proclaimed terrible) blogger. Am afraid that my wallflower tendencies will prevail. Am intimidated at sitting among writers whom I admire and make it all look so easy.

I am leaning into the nudges, choosing the unsafe so that I may relish the goodness to follow.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I'm terrible at this blogging thing. There, I said it.

I'm trying to decide whether I have anything to say that isn't already being said. To decide if my reasons to write--capturing, creating, expressing, relating--are worth the time and energy expended. To decide if I will ever have an audience, or better yet, decide if I even desire an audience.

If I was good at this, I'd know. There would be no decisions. It would be a given, a force pulsing through me.

Yet, here I am. Still writing, about to hit publish.